We will sur­vive

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Kath­leen Parker is syn­di­cated by The Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group.

You can feel the ten­sion. Strolling down the street, shop­ping at the cor­ner mar­ket, stop­ping for a bite at the lo­cal tav­ern, friends and neigh­bors greet each other as usual but avoid the ele­phant saun­ter­ing around like he owns the place.

It’s best not to talk pol­i­tics this close to the elec­tion.

But when an im­pu­dent colum­nist asks the next fel­low in the gro­cery line — “Have you voted yet?” — and his an­swer hints at a Trump bal­lot, neigh­bor­ing eyes cast down­ward, while sparks siz­zle in their hu­man cas­ings.

A brief fris­son has tran­spired. Chuck­ling ner­vously, we plunge through the door into a cool, sunny breeze, think­ing: Thank God this will be over soon. Will it? No one knows, but a sense of dread has at­tached to the “Day Af­ter.” This is be­cause af­ter 18 months of rab­ble-rous­ing and anger man­age­ment (not in a good way), we’ve cre­ated a sort of Potemkin night­mare of par­ti­san di­vi­sion and rev­o­lu­tion­ary strife. Never be­fore has this coun­try been so di­vided, goes the usual cho­rus of pun­dits and com­men­ta­tors.

Ex­cept, that is, for every other elec­tion year since vot­ing be­gan.

Our Found­ing Fa­thers, for all their clev­er­ness, were hardly soft-spo­ken. The Civil War needs no ed­i­to­rial com­ment. The 1960s weren’t ex­actly a pad­dle­boat cruise down the Mis­sis­sippi.

In other words, our pol­i­tics have al­ways been thus, though with one sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence. Whereas Paul Re­vere had to ride sev­eral hours on horse­back to de­liver the news that the Bri­tish were com­ing, we never stop re­ceiv­ing news of ev­ery­thing, ev­ery­where in real time that passes be­fore we can stand athwart his­tory and gasp, “Oh, my God, no!”

Through me­dia in all its forms, we ex­haust and are ex­hausted by the in­signif­i­cant. To tune in is to be­lieve that West­ern civ­i­liza­tion is near­ing col­lapse, re­gard­less of who hol­sters up and swag­gers into the White House next Jan­uary. Which is pre­cisely what you’re sup­posed to think. You’re sup­posed to think ev­ery­thing is fall­ing apart. You’re sup­posed to be­lieve that life has never been worse.

Don­ald Trump was right when he said the sys­tem is rigged, but not in the way he meant. It isn’t rigged against him. He’s part of the ecosys­tem of me­dia, po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tants, pro­duc­ers, politi­cians and pro­pa­gan­dists that are rigged against The Peo­ple — and it’s work­ing just fine. Ev­ery­one’s in on the same game, which is es­sen­tially to en­sure that The Peo­ple gob­ble up what they’ve been serv­ing — and what they’re serv­ing is re­sent­ment, fear and anger.

Sure, peo­ple were up­set about stuff. But what we feel now was mass-pro­duced by a pro­pa­ganda in­dus­try that prof­its most when peo­ple are worked up.

You want a good money tip? In­vest in out­rage.

As Nov. 9 dawns, Amer­i­cans are sure to be mad as hell. Those happy with the vic­tor will be re-an­gry soon enough when they re­al­ize they won’t be get­ting what they were promised. This is the good news. Thanks to the bril­liance of our tri­par­tite govern­ment, no­body gets to be dic­ta­tor. And de­spite what nearly ev­ery­one seems to be­lieve, our “bro­ken govern­ment” works pretty well most of the time.

If Trump wins, he’ll be held in check more or less by the House and Se­nate be­cause that’s the way our sys­tem of govern­ment is set up. Not even Repub­li­cans are ea­ger to fol­low Trump’s lead.

There won’t be a wall. He won’t im­pose any re­li­gion­based im­mi­gra­tion re­stric­tions be­cause even Trump isn’t that lame-brained. He’ll dress up and be­have at state din­ners and be funny when called upon. He’ll even in­vite the me­dia to the White House hol­i­day party. He won’t nuke Iran for rude ges­tures, or as­sault women. He and Vladimir Putin will hate each other, re­spect­fully.

If Hil­lary Clin­ton wins, she’s not go­ing to sud­denly be­come a lu­natic. As a sen­a­tor, she worked across the aisle and earned the ad­mi­ra­tion of her col­leagues. She’ll man­age the mil­i­tary be­cause she, like Trump, hon­ors the troops, and they know it. She’ll make sure her Supreme Court ap­point­ments will pro­tect Roe v. Wade, but oth­er­wise, the jury’s al­ways out. For­mer Jus­tice David Souter and Chief Jus­tice John Roberts both demon­strated the box-of-choco­lates rule: You never know (ex­actly) what you’ll get.

The same, alas, can be said about both Clin­ton and Trump. What­ever they’ve pro­jected or promised won’t be re­flected in the re­al­ity of the pres­i­dency. It never is. What­ever they may wish to be, the pres­i­dent is only one-third of the equa­tion — granted, with an armed force.

On a hap­pier note, ei­ther way — cue Glo­ria Gaynor — oh, yes, we will sur­vive.

Kath­leen Parker Colum­nist

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